- « You too have known loss, and that loss torments you still. You hope hatred might someday replace the pain, but it never goes away. It makes a man hideous, inside and out. Wouldn’t you agree? We both are demons. Our humanity won’t return. You. Me. We’ve no place to run, nowhere to hide. And that’s why I’ll show you my demon. «
- ―Skull Face
Skull Face was the heavily scarred commander of the paramilitary unit XOF. He secretly commanded XOF from the 1960s up until his death in 1984, at first acting as a covert ally of Naked Snake during the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater, and later as Cipher’s elite strike force until he finally took control of the organization away from Zero. Skull Face also created the Parasite Unit, a group of parasite-enhanced super soldiers that would act as his chief enforcers and high-level operatives for XOF during the 1980s. He suffered extensive injuries in his youth which caused his characteristic facial scars, burns, and discolorations (most notably a Glasgow smile).
Skull Face was born to two rural factory workers in a small village in northern Transylvania that would be restored to Hungarian rule during World War II. Since birth, he was forced to adopt various languages due to Hungary being dominated by various countries during his life, specifically Nazi Germany during World War II and later the Soviet Union during the Cold War. His childhood was interrupted when the grapeseed oil factory located in Almásfüzitő where he and his parents were working at the time was bombed by Allied forces during World War II, under the correct suspicion that it doubled up as a weapons manufacturing site. Skull Face was trampled in the aftermath by a mob of civilians rushing to escape, and sustained significant injuries during the chaos, including being doused in boiling oil. His medical condition was critical; a nurse treating his wounds in an infirmary remarked that he ought to be euthanized. He was left with dramatic deformities and nerve damage; conditions which were exacerbated when he was tortured by foreign hands later in life.
As a young man, he made his living as a spymaster and assassin in the Soviet Union, although he spent much of his time killing various people via methods that would point against murder; many of his targets being those he harbored vengeance against for taking away his ability to speak his native tongue. One of his targets was the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, whom he murdered via one of his MOs behind locked doors by making it seem as though he had suffered from a stroke. He later defected to the West, eventually joining the SAS; it was here where he met his future superior, Major David Oh. Impressed with Skull Face’s skills as an assassin and military tactician, the Major promoted Skull Face to be his XO.
After Major Oh had resigned from the SAS to join the CIA, Skull Face remained as one of their elite field operatives until the early 1960s when he was contacted by his former commanding officer, who offered Skull Face to become the commander of the covert CIA unit XOF. XOF was created as an unconventional support team to its fellow CIA unit FOX to help make it stronger and to provide support to its operatives, with Skull Face giving the orders. His first mission as XOF’s commander was the Virtuous Mission, where he and a team of XOF operatives were to covertly follow, assist, and clean up after FOX operative Naked Snake as well as to keep track of his mission status, completely unbeknownst to the latter. After the Virtuous Mission was considered a failure, Major Zero was later given the green light to commence Operation Snake Eater. Needing insurance that the mission would be a success at all cost, Skull Face and a team of XOF operatives were again secretly deployed by Major Zero to Tselinoyarsk to provide covert support for Naked Snake.
After the mission proved successful, Skull Face and his unit continued to act as a support unit for all FOX operations until 1970 when FOX was disbanded, although Major Zero had offered Skull Face and XOF to join his own private organization, Cipher, where the unit was reformed into Zero’s personal covert strike force, utilizing their stealth training while making sure that they were never there. Skull Face, now one of Zero’s most trusted operatives, was given certain freedoms in becoming the Major’s personal enforcer, allowing him to independently run XOF as he saw fit and pursue whatever projects he found interest in as long as he ran it by Zero first. While most of Zero’s operatives were given their missions via proxy, Skull Face received his missions directly from Zero over a private, secure phone line that was designed to keep their conversations private. It was also designed to be untraceable as a precaution in case Skull Face intended to betray the Major.
Although he hated both Major Zero and Snake, Skull Face nonetheless enjoyed his position in XOF immensely. At some point, he met with Code Talker, a Diné biologist who had been studying a uranium-metabolizing strain of archaea for nuclear irradiation clean-up and was in deep need of funding. Using some of XOF’s resources without the permission of Zero, Skull Face funded Code Talker’s research and forced him to focus on the archaea’s potential as nuclear weaponry instead, threatening to wipe out the Navajo if he did not submit. Skull Face also discovered Code Talker’s research into the mysterious vocal cord parasites, this time relaying it to Zero for further analysis, although in Zero’s hands it did not get very far, only being used as a test case for reverse evolution experiments. At some point, Skull Face himself procured some of the parasitic bugs for later use, which would cause various gruesome symptoms including an irreversible decline of the host’s cognitive systems.
Ground Zeroes Incident
- Main article: Ground Zeroes Incident
At some point after the Peace Walker Incident in 1974, Skull Face and XOF took command of a U.S. naval base named Camp Omega Cuba using forged CIA credentials, turning it into a « black site. » During this time, he claimed XOF was a CIA unit, although the group didn’t answer to Langley. On one occasion, Skull Face relayed his personal history to a prisoner that he attempted to recruit to his side, though the prisoner ended up dying from the torture he inflicted on him.
He also ended up interrogating an MSF Intel Team agent, even quoting briefly Big Boss’s line about pain « getting the better of us, » when trying to get him to talk. Although the prisoner never divulged any information, Skull Face nonetheless came very close to breaking him, closer than the other interrogators of various agencies at the base.
Skull Face eventually learned that the Cipher spy Paz Ortega Andrade had survived her encounter with Big Boss as she had been rescued by a Belizean fisherman. Seeing it as the perfect opportunity to strike against Zero, Skull Face captured Paz as she was the only one of his operatives to meet him face to face ever since Zero had gone into hiding since working on the « grand experiment. » Needing to interrogate her without Zero ever knowing, Skull Face had her imprisoned at the U.S. facility, with the intention of breaking her to reveal Zero’s location. Claiming to be acting under Cipher’s orders, he proceeded to viciously torture her for Zero’s location, constantly pushing her physical and mental limits, although she showed a surprising defiance to his methods. Later, the XOF had captured the child soldier Chico, who was trying to rescue Paz from the base. Knowing the young boy’s association with Big Boss’ mercenary group Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF), Skull Face saw it as the perfect opportunity to kill two birds (Big Boss and Zero) with one stone and began to torture Chico as well. He made Chico watch while Paz’s rape was being carried out, even tasking the boy to have sex with her and participate in the abuse himself until Chico eventually broke and exposed key details on MSF’s Mother Base and Metal Gear ZEKE. Eventually, Skull Face confronted Paz in private and, after explaining his motives and inferring his willingness to aid Big Boss to fulfill his goal, he got her to reveal Zero’s location. Anticipating that Big Boss would come to rescue the two prisoners, Skull face had Paz implanted with two bombs, one in her abdomen to catch Big Boss’ attention and throw him off guard, and another « in a place [MSF]’d never look, » as his ace in the hole. After being debriefed about the successful rigging of bombs on Mother Base’s struts by an « advance team, » he also ordered for the XOF personnel to make copies of Chico’s recordings, as he wanted to make sure Big Boss listened to them.
On March 15, Skull Face visited Chico at the Omega Base prison camp to inform him that Paz had revealed everything he needed to know, also claiming to have kept a promise by giving her a merciful death. After receiving the Intel he needed to destroy Big Boss, Skull Face proceeded to convert the black site into a staging area for his attack on Mother Base. As he arrived at the camp, the guard dogs stationed at the camp barked viciously at him, as they sensed him as an enemy. He then told Chico that he should give his regards to Big Boss, and asked him how it felt to « play the traitor. » Skull Face then headed to a heliport with several other XOF soldiers, removing the XOF logo on his chopper after he arrived, then notified his forces that the « Trojan horse » was in, and that the pirate crackdown was « a go. » After lifting off, Skull Face ordered his men to remove the XOF patches from their uniforms and hand them to another soldier, who then threw them outside to the ground below. He proceeded towards Mother Base, where he detonated covertly placed C4 on the facilities struts and commenced the Trojan Horse operation. Coordinating the attack from a chopper, Skull Face proceeded to the control tower where he encountered Huey Emmerich. Offering the scientist a way out, both of them escaped Mother Base by helicopter and headed for Afghanistan. True to his predictions, Big Boss proceeded to rescue Chico and Paz, and he also failed to discover the second bomb, although Paz threw herself out of the chopper at the last minute.
Skull Face was quickly exiled to Africa and was stripped of his political power for his part in the events but remained as Zero’s XO and as the commander of XOF, being allowed to operate solely in Africa as he saw fit. He eventually decided that it was time to strike against Zero and remove him from power. Skull Face managed to use the information he gained from Paz to find Zero, who was holed up in hiding in a Cipher-controlled apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. The building was entirely occupied by covert Cipher agents who had only one directive, to protect Zero at all costs. To make things more difficult, Zero himself resided in a penthouse that lacked any windows or doors and was only accessible through a hidden elevator somewhere in the building. With little chance of taking out Zero directly, Skull Face decided that the best way to eliminate his old commander was to use the element of surprise.
Having obtained a pin badge which held significant importance to Zero and The Boss during their time in SAS, Skull Face laced a copy of the parasite strain into a fake pin badge that resembled the one he found on The Boss and sent it to Zero as a gesture of good faith. In 1976, Skull Face contacted Zero over a secure phone line and discussed the value of the vocal cord parasites in an attempt to show their value to Cipher. Zero dismissed them as inferior to the visions of FOXDIE he had planned, angering Skull Face. He encouraged Zero to open and examine his « gift » knowing that the latter would prick and infect himself with the parasites, which would gradually render him an invalid, as the former’s hatred was such that he wasn’t content with merely killing his former commanding officer. Zero began to thrash and writhe wildly in pain, much to Skull Face’s amusement who delivered the final blow by revealing to Zero that the pin badge he received was a fake. Skull Face himself was infected with several of the same bugs inside his vocal cord, forcing him to find a cure for his infection to no avail. He was later manipulated by Code Talker into undergoing experimental radiation therapy, the latter hiding from him that there was a far simpler cure in the form of the bacteria.
After Zero was taken care of, Skull Face proceeded to take control of the majority of Cipher’s resources and operations and absorbed them into XOF. What remained of Cipher was left under the control of Donald Anderson at the request of Zero, who could no longer lead the organization due to his failing health and mental state. Anderson used what remained of Cipher to develop the AI program that would eventually take over the Patriots.
Phantom Pain Incident
- See also: Hospital Escape and Phantom Pain Incident
In 1984, Skull Face learned that Zero had placed the comatose Big Boss in a British military hospital in Cyprus a few months after the Trojan Horse operation that destroyed Mother Base. Seeing it as the perfect opportunity, Skull Face ordered XOF forces, which included elite XOF assassin Quiet, to eliminate Big Boss and everyone else present at the hospital. While the mission was a failure, Skull Face had succeeded in covering his tracks and managed to gain control over Tretij Rebenok and the Man on Fire when they sensed his burning desire for revenge and became attracted to it.
When Venom Snake recovered the Honey Bee from the caves of Da Smasei Laman before the Soviets could locate it, Skull Face captured Venom Snake using the arm of Sahelanthropus, briefly taunting him about having survived the attack nine years ago before having the giant’s fist release him. Skull Face then mounted the Sahelanthropus’s hand like a platform and departed into the mist, leaving Venom Snake to battle a group of the Parasite Unit. Venom Snake would escape and return to Mother Base.
Skull Face later personally observed the finishing touches to Sahelanthropus at the Serak Power Plant with Huey Emmerich nearby. They entered a brief squabble, where Huey insisted they wait until the AI was finalized. Skull Face decided against it because that was the mistake Hot Coldman made ten years prior. He then learned from one of his soldiers that Huey had made contact with Venom Snake, causing him to deduce that Huey intended to defect from XOF to Diamond Dogs. Enraged by this revelation, Skull Face mirrored Coldman’s actions a decade earlier, shoving Huey down the stairs while declaring that he intended to take his legs back. He then inferred he’d let Venom Snake take him anticipating full well that Diamond Dogs intended to exact revenge on Huey for his role in the Mother Base attack. Although he wanted to kill him, he decided to keep Huey alive a little while longer, as he still had some use for drawing out Venom Snake, knowing full well he was most likely nearby. True to his suspicions, Venom Snake had indeed tracked down Huey at the Soviets’ Afghanistan Central Base Camp. Just as Venom Snake was about to extract Huey, Skull Face revealed that Sahelanthropus was fully operational, catching even Huey off-guard. He then departed on an XOF chopper to allow Sahelanthropus and Tretij Rebenok (who was piloting it remotely via his psychic powers) to attack Venom Snake and Huey.
Skull Face later re-encountered Venom Snake (who was trying to rescue an African child soldier unit leader named Shabani) at the Ngumba Industrial Zone shortly after executing one of the test subjects, and decided to burn the facility via Tretij Rebenok and the « Man on Fire », intending for Venom Snake to die in the flames. Venom Snake ultimately escaped with his life, although Shabani and the other test subjects were not as lucky.
Skull Face then intended to kill Code Talker, seeing no more use for him anymore, although Diamond Dogs ultimately succeeded in rescuing him. Anticipating that Venom Snake and the Diamond Dogs would locate Sahelanthropus as well as himself, he then waited for Venom Snake’s arrival. After Venom Snake arrived at his helipad, he then commented on how they were both demons, before ordering for his men to stand down. He then had Venom Snake follow him to the hangar Sahelanthropus was at: eventually boarding a jeep and riding with Venom Snake in the back to the stretch of road leading to the hangar. During the trek, Skull Face elaborated on his history with Zero and Snake, as well as his motives and his past. He then claimed that silencing the world was in fact what The Boss wanted. He revealed that he had deduced Zero’s plan to have the AIs rule the Patriots in his place, and attempted to use Walker Gear to indefinitely eliminate his « employers », and ensure the world ran through chaos by eliminating the English language. Later on, Venom Snake and Skull Face arrived at a hangar containing Sahelanthropus. He then attempted to have the Man on Fire fight Venom Snake. During this time, Skull Face hinted at the Man on Fire’s true identity and background, as well as his connection to Snake.
However, just as his plan was to come to fruition, Sahelanthropus activated prematurely due to Tretij Rebenok turning on XOF in favor of allying himself with Eli, who was stationed inside a Diamond Dogs helicopter. Skull Face was caught off-guard, enraged that someone had more of a lust for revenge than even he. He was so stunned and shocked by the revelation that he had to be physically dragged away by two of his men in order for him to evacuate the premises, all the while demanding to know whose hatred it was that was causing Tretij Rebenok to defy his orders. Frustrated, he then had his forces try to stop Sahelanthropus with very limited success. Seeing the damage wrought, he realized Zero might have ultimately succeeded in his plans, although he was nonetheless confident that his plans would usurp Zero’s in the near future.
Raving over the prospect of Sahelanthropus’s influence unto the future, Skull Face was attacked by the Metal Gear, resulting in him being crushed under scaffolding. After defeating Sahelanthropus, Venom Snake and Miller exact revenge against Skull Face for his role in the destruction of MSF, as well as the injuries he inflicted on them; by shooting him several times with his own gun, detaching his left leg and right arm, before leaving him to die in a agonized death as he begged to be killed (also making sure he could not reach for his gun by discarding it and pointing the barrel away from Skull Face). However, Huey ultimately killed Skull Face by shooting him in the head shortly thereafter, with Skull Face immediately beforehand begging for Huey to deliver the coup de grace.
Later, while Diamond Dogs were moving in Sahelanthropus, Venom Snake saw a phantom of Skull Face, a ghostly reminder that though they had lost their object of revenge, Diamond Dogs were still experiencing a phantom pain.
Personality and traits
- « You hope hatred might someday replace the pain, but it never goes away. It makes a man hideous, inside and out.«
- ―Skull Face
A former black ops agent-turned-commander, Skull Face was a cruel individual who revered the power of language and sought revenge for the loss of his cultural identity. It is implied that his views on language stemmed from his forced servitude to the Nazis and the Soviets where they forced him to adopt new languages, German and Russian instead of his native Hungarian. Because of his cruel upbringing, he was shown to be extremely nihilistic, understanding hope only in the sense of it being a survival skill and otherwise not viewing it as important. He admitted that his motives to kill Zero and Big Boss weren’t due to hatred, but merely because it’s what nature demanded. In this regard, he viewed himself as a liberator who would rid the world of infestation by plotting the eradication of the English language through the use of parasites that could target and kill those who spoke the words of said language. He seemed to greatly respect The Boss due to his plan being inspired from her sacrifice, in which he cited that she wanted « to let the world be ». Specifically, Skull Face believed that enacting his plan was equal to fulfilling The Boss’ will, by literally reverting different cultures to their own original language. Having lived beyond his seeming death as a victim of war, Skull Face was subjected to parasite therapy, in which it essentially prolonged his vitality and figuratively turned him into a living dead.
Despite his extremely cruel nature, he was nonetheless a very charismatic individual. This charisma is best demonstrated in Afghanistan, where his XOF troops intended to gun down Venom Snake when he approached the chopper that Skull Face was about to depart from and shield Skull Face, only to be subtly ordered by Skull Face to lower their weapons, as well as when Sahelanthropus was prematurely activated, where several XOF soldiers physically dragged him out to safety and formed a guard to the front of him to escort him out when he was unable to bring himself to evacuate due to hismshock at Sahelanthropus’s activation.
After executing a test subject at the Devil House, he seemed to take his hat off and show respect to the test subject he had just killed. This suggests that he did have empathy to a certain degree.
A master of interrogation, Skull Face was known to torture his victims on both a physical and psychological level and was willing to do anything it took to break them. He even went so far as to torture children to get information that would benefit his interests, such as when he tortured Chico to learn the locations of Mother Base. Skull Face used a variety of methods in order to make his victims talk, which included severe beatings, rape, mental manipulation, and even using simple objects like a small bell or playing music. Skull Face was shown to be extremely ruthless and sadistic in his methods, going to great lengths to achieve his goals. He tortured both Paz and Chico both mentally and physically, even resorting to ordering one of his soldiers to rape Paz in front of Chico to get the information he wanted. He even forced Chico himself to have intercourse with Paz to prove that he was a man, showing that he was a sexual sadist, although he didn’t directly participate in the act; he simply ordered others to do it for him. Even after getting the information he wanted out of Chico and Paz, Skull Face still tortured them stating, « we’re half way there. » During his interrogations and torturing with Paz, he would play the 1971 song « Here’s to You » by Joan Baez, out loud.
Although he had a high success rate of interrogating prisoners for information, he was not always successful which was best demonstrated with his interrogation of an MSF Intel Team agent, where despite not getting any information on Big Boss, the prisoner admitted that of the interrogators at the base, Skull Face came the closest to breaking him.
He was highly skilled in the art of mental manipulation during interrogations, such as when he tricked Paz into giving up Zero’s location by implying that it would save Big Boss, only to tell her that the cycle of vengeance must continue and that Big Boss, whether he knew it or not, was a part of that cycle. Another instance of this was when he interrogated Code Talker so that he could find a cure for the Parasitic worm by explaining that every time he rang the bell he brought into the room, the soldier posted outside would pass on a message to another soldier to infect one of the villagers of Code Talker’s tribe with the parasite. After ringing the bell several times, Code Talker finally submitted, only to discover there was never any soldier to begin with. He also successfully manipulated Zero into infecting himself with the parasite strain by stealing a lapel pin from Layforce that had a personal connection to The Boss and himself as well as sending it back to Zero as a gesture of good faith.
He was a very skilled assassin, pulling off various assassination attempts and even had multiple MOs to disguise the death. At least one of his MOs involved killing people behind closed doors and then making it seem as though the people died via cerebral hemorrhages/strokes, as evidenced by how he had dispatched Josef Stalin. He and his XOF unit were chosen as covert backup for Naked Snake during the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater as they had been trained in advanced stealth tactics and reconassence, being able to operate and adapt in multiple environments and conditions without ever being seen or heard, making them valuable assets to Zero.
Skull Face was a brilliant strategist, as he manipulated both the MSF and his two prisoners into playing into his hands, foreseeing that Big Boss would come rescue them. Seeing it as an opportunity to get rid of the legendary mercenary, Skull Face had his men surgically implant two bombs into Paz’s body, the first one to catch Big Boss’s attention and throw him off guard, and the second one as his ace in the hole. It was also heavily implied that he deliberately had the Skulls spare Miller and hand him over to the Soviets to torture him specifically to draw Big Boss out. In addition, he also had enough foresight and knowledge into events of the past to know which kind of strategic blunders to avoid, as evidenced by his refusing Huey’s suggestion to include the AI onto Sahelanthropus, specifically citing as his reason that it was the mistake Hot Coldman made. Despite his nature, he attempted to implore a previous prisoner to join his side and live for revenge, though the prisoner ended up dying. He also told one of his soldiers that Paz needed to recover from the torture, although only because he needed her alive. During a torture session, he told a soldier to stop whipping Paz because she was no good to him dead.
Skull Face admitted to dwelling « in the dark » but refused to be judged by Huey Emmerich’s « standards, » showing that Huey’s treachery disgusted even Skull Face. Despite this, however, he did ultimately spend his last moments begging for Huey to kill him when Miller and Venom Snake opted to leave him to die, with Huey « obliging » his request.
Skull Face always wore a trench coat and a ten-gallon hat and carried a sawed off lever-action rifle. In 1984, he was seen wearing a domino mask, although this ended up forcibly removed from his face at the time of his death due to Venom Snake and Miller’s brutal actions of revenge against him.
Because of his origins in Hungary, he also knew Hungarian, although he acknowledged that he was unable to hear his own language due to the Nazi and Soviet occupations of his country forcibly replacing the language. He ultimately was forced to no longer speak his own language after 1975 due to being infected with the parasites, including a Hungarian-strain, which made him more desperate to find someone, Code Talker, to aid him in developing the parasites. When Code Talker deduced his motivations for forcing him to work on the parasite, Skull Face also got extremely angry. Despite being infected, he did briefly speak Hungarian when he was about to execute one of the test subjects shortly before discovering Venom Snake’s presence in the Devil’s House.
Behind the scenes
Skull Face appears in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as the main antagonist. He is described as « A Ghost without a Past. » He was first revealed, albeit unidentified, in the PAX Prime 2012 demo for Ground Zeroes, and briefly in the GDC 2013 trailer announcing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which was early thought to comprise both Ground Zeroes, and The Phantom Pain.
The XOF commander’s name was supposedly revealed to be Albatross in an article posted by a game tester, regarding a private demo of Ground Zeroes by Hideo Kojima in May 2013, for the video game website Gamasutra. The article was deleted shortly thereafter. However, the E3 2013 trailer later revealed that the XOF commander’s name was actually Skull Face.
In the English version of Ground Zeroes, James Horan provided Skull Face’s voice, while Takaya Hashi provided his Japanese voice.
In a tweet, Kojima compared Skull Face with the Batman villain Clayface. In another series of tweets, Kojima admitted that he considered including Skull Face on the overseas cover for Ground Zeroes, but decided against it due to it being too horrifying, and because it reminded him too much of the film Enemy Mine.
In an interview with Famitsu in November 2012, Kojima revealed that Skull Face was originally going to be called « Scarface. »
In a commentary for the opening scenes of Ground Zeroes on IGN, Kojima explained that he had the dogs bark at Skull Face as if he were enemy personnel to emphasize that Skull Face was different from the other personnel.
In the E3 2014 trailer for The Phantom Pain, Skull Face is shown leading Big Boss to a hangar with Metal Gear inside.
During a Q&A session at Gamescom 2014, Kojima described Skull Face as somewhat inhuman, stating that « he’s not just a plain old bad guy: his face has been stripped off, revealing his skull. This ‘skull face’ represents the human side that he lost. »
During Chico’s 5th cassette tape in Ground Zeroes, at 00:35, Skull Face says « Vigyétek a ketrecébe! » which is Hungarian for « Take him to his cage! »
In the cutscene depicting Skull Face’s demise, the player can choose whether to act on shooting Skull Face in revenge or waiting until the scene transitions to Miller aiding Venom Snake in shooting him. If the former, it will depict Venom Snake shooting him three times in the chest while flashing back to his appearance during the events of the Hospital Raid, hinting he shot him in revenge for sending Quiet and XOF to try and kill him at the hospital.
Some elements of his character were leaked in an Italian game guide for the game.
With Skull Face’s on-screen time clocking in at about thirty minutes, spanning both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, some fans have been critical about this, considering the length of the latter.
According to Hideo Kojima’s notes in the Piggyback Collector’s Edition Guide’s art gallery, Skull Face’s role is that, while he is indeed the story’s villain and antagonist, his character is not simply about Good and Evil: He has lost something, which results in him suffering from the phantom pain. He also states that his absence will leave the player with a sense of lasting phantom pain. He also explains in the same source that the reason he doesn’t have a standard boss battle is to further promote the theme of a chain of revenge, a phantom pain, the continuous chain that one experiences when a target of vengeance is gone, something that would not have been possible via a standard boss fight, unlike most stories where good vs. evil encounters are given in Hollywood movies to satisfy the audience.
Art from the concept art book shows what his face looked like before his burns.
If the player replays the mission « Skull Face » after completing « Truth: The Man Who Sold the World », although the speech Skull Face gave to Big Boss is the same, the subtitles will add quotation marks around « Big Boss ».
Notes and references
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014).
This is strongly implied in Chico Tape 5: When telling his soldiers to take Chico to his cage after Chico protested during an interrogation of Paz, he says to his soldiers « Vigyétek a ketrecébe, » which is Hungarian for « Take him back to his cage. » In addition, his backstory given in his motives tape, strongly resembles an actual event that occurred in 1944 in Hungary, where a small village with oil refineries and factories named Almásfüzitő was bombed repeatedly during the year as part of the Oil Campaign of World War II, and similar to both several spies claims and Skull Face’s own admission, was also a military outpost. This was later confirmed in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain courtesy of a briefing file provided by Ocelot.
- ^ a b Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014).
Briefing files > Acquired Tapes > Agent’s Recording > Secretly Recorded POW Interrogation
(waterboarding is heard, and then shuffling them prisoner back to the boiler room cell. A man is heard driving in) // Skull Face: I needed this place, to listen to the words people have to say. That’s something they could never understand. (the man, Skull Face, then walks up to the prisoner, who is groaning in agony) You’ve done your part. You told us plenty. You’ve known the pain of ages. And even now you think, as any person would, that this can’t be happening. Is it education? Morals, faith? Just an imprint of a lifetime of stories? Face to face with oblivion, which is where you are, and you still think that help is coming. The world you were born into is made to save you. Isn’t that right? Of course it is. Everyone knows that. Until your last breath, you know it. Without the slightest chance or reason left to them, humans are capable of hope. I’m no different. But for one thing. When my time came calling I didn’t die. My family died, my country died, but they didn’t take me with them. All Hell took from me was this skin, this outer peel that marked me « human. » My village had an oilseed field and a fine factory. Every day my friends and I would see our parents at work in that factory. That’s all I had. All the world I knew. Then one day, aircraft came droning in from some far-off sky. The factory was bombed. Some… « spies » had told them we were making weapons. The building burned. We tried to flee outside. The crowd blocked the exit. The crowd of people. Hot. So hot. I tried to push through their legs and get ahead, but a boot in my stomach put me on the ground. The smoke of them burning filled me up. I heard my name called… but not for long. At the infirmary they carried me to, a nurse in the corner saw me and remarked, as if it happened every day: « They should let the poor thing die. » Those are the only words of my mother tongue I remember. It was the language of my village. Until foreign troops invaded. Then the last identity I had left – the words I spoke – were pulled from me. My skin would never feel anything again. This face would be burned again, in torture, at foreign hands, but I, I still writhe in that burning factory. Doused in scalding rapeseed oil. That’s all I have to feel, that pain – all I have to remind me I exist here. (chuckles) Those « spies » reported well. We made weapons all right. As cartloads of rifles came in from the battlefields, we fixed them up and sent them back out. So our country could win. Or rather, so that little world we knew could continue. I came to realize I mustn’t die. I’m their last hope, all those who perished and left me here. I have to accomplish something. If I don’t, their will will be swept out of this world. (Skull Face proceeds to grab the prisoner) So? Do you see me now? Tell me. What do you see? Hmm? You have eyes. What do your eyes see? (chuckles) Yes, that’s right. You see a skull face. You see me. This skull is who I am. My mark, my proof of humanity. I have no country, no language, I have no face, but I haven’t lost my skull. So I told myself… The pain and effort that keep me alive will never know relief, never bear fruit, never be repaid. I know that, but I told myself to focus on some hope, a nonexistent hope to guide me through this burning world. A hope – call it a dream. A melancholic delusion. As the pressures within me stretch me to bursting, and I force myself not to cry out, though the words I thought were carved into me are gone, and all I knew is dead. I know how you feel. I’ve felt that. So show me. That I’m not the only one. That you too can return to this world, for revenge. Do you see me? Don’t die. Don’t die! (Ahh…)
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014).
An undercover agent uncovered that they never actually answered to Langley, and informed Big Boss as much.
- ^ a b Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014)
Prisoner 12282: Boss… I never expected you would come… This place is full of “enemy combatants” renditioned from all over the world. But I couldn’t believe how many groups were asking the questions. They gotta have some kind of secret agreement. At a guess, I’d say there were MI6, BND, ISI… I even heard one guy speaking Russian. Yeah, they’re making deals with the East too. Local agencies will snatch dissidents who’ve defected to the West and then send ‘em back across the Iron Curtain… after a stopover here. They’re dealing in “leverage” on foreign administrations. Backdoor money. Scandals. Financial fraud. By sharing information that governments want to sweep under the rug, they, they gain leniency for their agencies. They’re trying to create some kind of HUMINT network without borders. Sorry, that’s all I know. Can’t believe I got captured… I should have known I wasn’t up to your standard… The torture was… was beyond anything I ever imagined. They were breaking guys left and right… I came pretty close too. But don’t worry, Boss. I, I didn’t tell them a thing. But… just one time… I was questioned by this other guy. He was different from the rest. I’ll never forget him… or what he said. It cut right into me. « Nothing to be ashamed of. Pain gets the better of us all. » « Let the words comfort you. » « Now what did your boss tell you? » I nearly talked. This guy was so… so weird. I know I saw his face. I just… I can’t remember it… The administration here knew about the operation. There was a leak. The brass are long gone. All that’s left are the grunts kept out of the loop and us « enemy combatants »… Dunno why they left witnesses like us here alive. Mind if we stop a minute, Boss? I gotta rest. Let’s get outta here. I wanna go home. Our home…
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014).
Skull Face: Cipher [Zero] has been in hiding ever since his grand experiment. No one has seen him in years… All we hear are orders delivered by proxy….. Except you [Paz]. You met with him, face to face, in order to contact Big Boss. Tell me where he is. Where is Cipher…… Where is Zero…… // (voice of a female in pain while Skull Face is talking) // Skull Face: I’ve never known choice. Where I was born, the language I speak, I’ve never had the freedom to choose for myself. But you, right now, are free. Do as you will. // Paz Ortega Andrade: This will save Big Boss? // Skull Face: It may. Paz: Will you really kill Zero for me? // Skull Face: Not for you // Paz: Alright…. Zero is……
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014).
Acquired Tapes > Chico’s Tapes > Chico’s Tape 7 – March 15, 1975: Bargaining with Paz (Final Recording):
Skull Face: You [Paz] shall not see triumph. You’ve been most helpful. And I have one last use for you. To you I give a magnificent end… But an end nonetheless. The final moment is yours. // Soldier: We heard from the advance team – everything’s right on schedule. The C4 has been planted on the legs [on Mother Base]. Strike team and decoy team are in position. And, we have confirmation that Big Boss'[s] chopper has lifted off. // Skull Face: A shame I won’t see him. But at least I’ll get a look at his body. Time for us to move out, too… But first, let’s stop by and see the boy [Chico]. I want Big Boss to hear his little diary. Hopefully he’s still a good listener. Give this [Walkman] to the boy as a reward…and a memento. Make copies [of the tapes]. // Soldier: Yes, sir. // Skull Face: First Big Boss, then Zero. Liberation is at hand.
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions (2015).
Skull Face: (attempting to command Man on Fire to halt) Wait…! // (Man on Fire explodes offscreen due to being crushed under Sahelanthropus’s platform, an XOF soldier gets crushed under foot by Sahelanthropus as several soldiers fire at the mech) // Skull Face: Wait… Who is doing this? // (XOF reinforcements run in, with two soldiers grabbing Skull Face by each side and dragging him away while two soldier back away guarding him from the front) //Skull Face: Such a lust for revenge… Who?! // (Skull Face and the soldiers disappear offscreen)
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions (2015).
Skull Face: Cipher will rewrite the records… and I will vanish from human memory. But… The thirst for revenge I have planted will infest the system. No one can stop it now. Sahelanthropus will unleash that thirst unto the future. Major [Zero]… I’m burning up! // (Sahelanthropus proceeds to kick a downed tower right into Skull Face)
- ^ Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima Productions (2014).
Marine 1: (Hey) You see that costume party those guys saluted to? // Marine 2: Yeah… Trench coat, and a ten gallon hat, and to top it off, that piece he’s carrying is a sawed off old lever-action. Their CO’s got style… for a bad guy in a western. // Marine 1: Nah man, he’s just a Republican. // Marine 2: (And) Either way, he didn’t look like no soldier to me. // Marine 1: And his bodyguards are all special forces ball-busting heavy operators. Last time I saw that, I was reading a comic book. // Marine 2: (Clicks tongue) I’m gonna have nightmares about this shit.
- ^ http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/681794-metal-gear-solid-v-the-phantom-pain/66164663
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 5: GAMEPLAY TRAILER! The Phantom Pain Xbox One Footage! – YouTube
- ^ https://twitter.com/Kojima_Hideo/status/396198961494511616/photo/1
- ^ https://twitter.com/hideo_kojima_en/status/415248836106272768